Monday, April 25, 2011

Matzo Crack

At first it seems like an easy feat, removing all chametz from one's diet. It's only a week. But this leaves very few sweets and while I'm not normally one who keeps sweets in the house because of the simple fact that I will eat them. At 2AM. But knowing that I can't just dig a spoon into one of the best ice creams ever, Edy's Girl Scout Samoas Cookie, which is currently chilling out in my Mom's freezer, leaves me looking through my cupboards wondering what I can snack on. Um.

Not much. See that cupboard? That's kinda what I have to work with plus the stuff in the fridge, which is mainly fruit, butter and cheeses. And if we weren't eating corn or rice this week it would be about half as much as that even. So what is one to make? Matzo crack! Or also known as Matzo toffee. This recipe can be found in a lot of places but I followed Marci Gilbert's Blog for her recipe for Matzo Toffee. It seemed the simplest to follow, I only altered a few steps, mainly the order, because I was scared I'd burn the brown sugar and butter mixture. I also increased the chocolate. Always increase the chocolate.

Matzo Toffee

6 squares of matzo
2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups chocolate
1 cup finely chopped nuts (or other topping)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, make a foil liner with a lip for cookie sheets (I needed two cookies sheets) and spray it with cooking spray. Take your matzo lay it on the tin foil in one layer, making sure to fill all gaps tightly.

In a small saucepan melt the butter and the brown sugar together. Bring the mixture up to a rapid boil and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir the mixture constantly. Remove from the heat before it turns a dark brown.

Once the mixture is melted and thickened, spread over the matzo using a spatula sprayed in cooking spray. Bake for 4 minutes in the oven.

Take the matzo out of the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips generously over the matzo. The chocolate chips should melt because of the heat but use the spatula to help spread them. Then sprinkle the chopped nuts (I used cashews) and press into the chocolate. Freeze until hardened and then serve.

My thoughts

I was super intimidated for some reason to make the butter and brown sugar mixture. I almost skipped the recipe because of this. But I got super lucky and it turned out faaantastic. Even my mom said I had the best luck/skill and she hasn't even ever had toffee set up that nicely. I was very proud.

I think the best piece of advice I can give is keep stirring the mixture constantly. It will kinda get fluffy, for lack of a better description, and turn a carmel color. Keep stirring it away from the sides of the pan or it may burn quicker. The mixture will be done right before it turns a darker brown color. I almost ruined the toffee by letting it burn but pulled it off the burner just in time and quickly poured it over the matzo. If I had burned it I would have just had to start over.

In the end though, it really is tasty. I brought some to work and one of my coworkers declared it one of the best treats he had eaten recently. I will definitely be making this again next year!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Jolly Family is Expanding!

So as you may know already, our Jolly family consists of

The Husband

A. (this was the face he gave me the first time he stepped in snow this year)

myself (where's my picture? Yeah, no picture of me. I don't do pictures)

two gold fish (originally three but one died), Fish 1 and Fish 2

and our special cat, Emma.

And while we had planned on our family expanding some day, we didn't think it would be this soon. So without further wait, our newest family member is...

Walter! A 14 pound daschund that we adopted from our neighbors who were fostering him. What? You expected a baby announcement? Um, you'll have to go to another blog for that one. Nope. We're happy with the size of our family for now. And considering how this is the one and only dog A. will actually pet (my friend's mom's aunt has one and he adores that dog) with his sensory issues, we got super lucky.

Also, the fact that A. just tested positive two weeks ago for being allergic to dogs (as well as cats, dust, weeds and grasses) didn't deter us. I know some or many, people would have a problem with our decision. But it isn't an allergy in the sense that he will die from Emma or Walter like he could with penicillin, no, it's a, we can manage this allergy by using the drugs he's already on and vacuuming more often. In the end, we're comfortable with our decision for our family and A. and Walter are already best friends. Emma and Walter, well, that's another story.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our First Passover

There has been a lot going on in the last week. Namely, The Husband and A. were in a car accident last week. They are fine, our car is not. It was totaled and now we're out a car and a car seat, though our insurance company reimbursed us for a new one already. But that's unpleasant and it causes me anxiety issues when I have to consider what new vehicle we will purchase so let's move along to something more pleasing.

This week, well actually Monday night at sunset (yeah, I'm a bit behind on this post), started the week long celebration of Passover. Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays and retells the story of how Moses lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. The holiday starts with a seder, which is a ritualized dinner that retells the story, on the first night. There are many elements to a seder and this year we had what I'm calling, a seder inspired dinner with just The Husband, A. and I. I read the Exodus story and recited some prayers and we all had a simple dinner.

A simple dinner and a week of meals that have to follow a set of specific rules. What rules? Well, first you have to follow kashrut or kosher rules plus your forbidden from eating other specific grains. We are following basic rules and those include:
  • No pork, shellfish, insects or any meat that is not kosher.
  • Meat and milk cannot be mixed.
  • Milk, veggies and fruits are permitted.
  • Eggs and fish that have scales and fins are permitted and both are considered parve (neutral) and can be mixed with milk or kosher meat.
  • For the week of Passover, chametz which is wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats that have been mixed with water and allowed to sit for longer than eighteen minutes.
What then does that leave to eat? Ummm... matzo? Which is wheat and water that have been worked and baked in less than eighteen minutes. Impressive. But no seriously, I had no idea what we were gonna eat for a week. And searching for "passover weekly menu" provided less than stellar, affordable options with ingredients that I could even find. So in case someone else ever searches, here is our weekly menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner and then snack). Note that we're only following the rules above, other Jews may follow additional rules (no rice, corn, legumes and hours regulation when eating dairy and meat, etc) that would cause this menu not to work for them. The great thing is though, with the matzo removed, this is a week of gluten free meal ideas. Neat.

But I will admit, the menu is a bit, okay, a lot, of repetition, but this is my first meal plan. Next year might be fancier. Might. Oh and I also don't claim to be a dietitian, I know some of these meals, okay, a lot of these meals, lack balance but I'll be honest and say, meh. This is how we eat. Oh and if some of these foods violate the rules in some way I can't forsee, I tried my best. I'm new at this.

toaster pastries, bananas
cheeseburger with bacon (oh yes, that is what we ate, because it wasn't yet Passover), fries, oranges
matzo ball soup, baked tilapia with lemon, roasted red skin potatoes, sparkling juice and chocolates
grapes, string cheese

rice crisp cereal, bananas
matzo with pb&j, grapes, yogurt
kosher hot dogs, sweet potato fries, kosher pickles, grapes
passover "crackers", sharp cheese, hard boiled eggs

corn chex cereal, raspberries
kosher hot dogs, roasted potatoes, oranges
matzo ball soup, grapes
yogurt, bananas

 rice cereal, strawberries
tuna fish, kosher pickles, matzo, oranges
matzo with pb&j, bananas
cottage cheese, strawberries

egg bake with mushrooms and onions, raspberries
black bean chili, cheese, oranges
spaghetti noodles made from rice, veggie spaghetti sauce, salad with feta
smoothies made with milk, yogurt, strawberries, raspberries and honey

egg bake with cheese, mushrooms and onions, bananas
matzo with pb&j, strawberries
kosher hot dogs, tater tots, oranges
passover "crackers", sharp cheese

matzo brei, fruit salad made of strawberries, oranges, bananas and raspberries
fried eggs, tater tots, brown rice "oatmeal"
matzo crusted perch, rice, fruit salad made of strawberries, oranges, bananas and raspberries
matzo toffee

corn chex cereal, raspberries
matzo with pb&j, oranges
black bean chili with cheese, oranges
mozzarella sticks, strawberries

I'll be sure to post some of the recipes in the future. Hopefully the rest of the week is relaxing and everyone has enjoyable holidays.

Oh and photobucket, where I store my photos, needs to hurry up and fix it's sight. Posts without photos are boring.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our House, One Year Later

So as of last Thursday we have been in our house for a year. A year. Wow. I can't believe it. Not because I feel like we have been here forever. Which I do already. No, I can't believe we have been here only a year and we still have 29 more years to pay it off. Ugh. Let's move along cause that is just down right depressing.

Now, what does our house look like a year later? Um, pretty much the same only now our crap is every where and in some cases, the house looks worse. Seriously. Take a look.

This is both the before and the after for the front of our 1928 farm house (I personally don't think it seems like a farm house at all but that's the style listed with the city). I never took a picture when we moved in but it pretty much looks exactly the same. I would like to add some color in the form of bright, cheery, cheap plants mainly because I don't know what I'm doing with plants.

This is the back of the house. Trying to explain the whole, door on the back of the house thing, to someone who hasn't lived in an old house and tried to move furniture up crazy narrow steps, is hard. But that's what it's for. To haul your furniture up to the second floor. Oh yes. It is as awesome to move furniture as it sounds.

And this is the back yard and the garage. Once again, I don't have a picture of it before but it is pretty much the before and after with the exception of the garage. It was originally painted all grey. Peeling grey paint. So our first house DIY was to scrape and prime the garage. Then we had it painted grey to match the house, white for the trim and Mustard Yellow from the Valspar line.

The Husband hates the yellow and wanted to keep the doors white. Um, no. That's boring. Bright yellow made the statement, "We're young! We're in our 20's!" versus the statement our house makes now that says it's an old lady house. I personally smile every time I see those doors. Ultimately I want to install a fence, add a swing set and some raised planter beds for a veggie garden but each of those will have to come over the next few years.

But we'll stop there for now and keep touring the house floor by floor, room by room over the next little bit. I'm both proud and horrified at our house. Good thing we have the next 29 years to work on it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A.'s First Day of School

Today was a big day in our house. A. started classes today to help his speech delay and his now confirmed Sensory Processing Disorder. Now some might argue that it really isn't school considering how it's only two days a week for only an hour and a half at a time, but to me, it is school. He has a teacher. I'm (suppose to) leave him there without me. He has his own cubby. And he's there to learn something educational. Sounds like school to me!

And here is A. wearing his new shirt with his new book. A. loves the show, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, so I bought him a Cat in the Hat shirt. I also found the book, Oh, Baby! Go Baby! which is inspired by the book, Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss. I love this book. A copy of it was given to me by my favorite high school teacher and the message is such a good one, that while things can get rough it will probably be okay and you can do great things. Reading the book in the store almost made me cry. Because I believe it with all my heart that A. can and will do great things in his life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

An Update on our DIY

So I had written before that we are living our own personal DIY disaster. And by disaster I mean, wow, now I know why people pay contractors to do this kind of thing. Because this sucks. We had intented to get a contractor but after we did all the demo and determined all of the issues, there was no way we could afford one. So instead we are DIYing with the help of our families, mainly my brother. And where are we in our progress? Ummm... we don't have any working plumbing to the only bathroom with a shower and are missing two ceilings and one and a half walls. Yay.

This is was our play room and that use to have a wall there. That shinny rectangle piece is the back of the medicine cabinet from the half bath on the other side. As you can see there is all new plumbing in that wall. You can also see duct tape. I promise we know that isn't how you connect pipes, it's just holding it in place while we fit pipes together. 

And this is the ceiling, or where it should be. See all that knob and tube wiring? Yeah, that has to be addressed next.

And this is our lovely plastic green tiled half bath. It's hard to tell from the picture but we had to rip down this ceiling so we could access the cast iron bath tub that had also been leaking due to rust. We are working on scrapping all the rust off of it now (hence the plastic bag tapped up there, it's to catch the shavings) and repairing it before the new drain and shower plumbing can be installed.

And this is the upstairs hallway wall. We had to cut into this wall to gain access to the roof vent (did you know pipes have to be vented? Yeah, I didn't either) and the sink plumbing. If you're wondering why there is a tub of kitty litter and Hello Kitty blocking that opening, it's because you can see all the way down to the down stairs bathroom and our special cat keeps trying to squeeze herself down into the opening. We love her.

Ta-da! Our pink and green bathroom void of all working plumbing. And yes, that is our toilet sitting in our tub. I'll disinfect it later. Many, many times.

And why is our toliet in the bath tub? Because that's what my tile floor looks like. Yucky. The leaking toliet, which started all the problems, rotted out the sub floor and my brother had to cut out the tile to patch the sub floor. Oh and see that awesome vanity? I know you're jealous.

So any home DIY projects going on with anyone else?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Spring Tchotchke

So I work in the electronics area at my work, among other random jobs like answering the phones. Which  if I stop to think about is hilarious considering how if I had to hook up my own TV, I'd be screwed. But none the less, that's where I work. And working in that department means I have to try and get my guests to buy extra crap with their new 3DS which we call attachments. Yes, when I ask you if you need a case or a game it isn't because I care, it's because if I don't ask and one of my managers hears then I get a lecture. One I don't care to listen to.

Why am I telling you this? Well, this past week I was the winner (yay go me) so I got to pick out a prize from work. And not some crappy one like a water bottle with a bullseye or something lame, no, anything I wanted from the store. Well, within $5 to $6. Now we have a bunch of cute crap for your house at work, not to sound like a spokesperson, but really, our crap is awfully cute. So cute it's hard to narrow down the choices on what to pick. But this time, I just knew what I wanted.

Oh yes. That is exactly what it looks like. A paper mached, covered in glitter, Easter Spring bunny. It is now sitting on the dresser I'm using as a small buffet next to my Shabbot candle holders and every time I see it, I smile. Something within me still loves sparkles and tchotchkes as much as I did when I was eight and begged my mom for porcelain horse figurines. Go figure.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mommy Confession - Morning TV is my Friend

So I've mentioned before that I'm not a morning person. I'd rather start going to sleep when normal people are waking up and going for four mile runs. Ewww.

This strong dislike for mornings causes me not to just hate waking up and all the people who enjoy waking up early, no, it causes me to be a bad mommy. What kind of a bad mommy? The one that pours Cheerios into a glass in her pj's and sits on the couch and spoon feeds her child while an education show on PBS plays.

Yes, my hate for mornings causes me to be that kind of mommy. The one where I'm hoping that for the first half an hour I don't have to worry about pinning him down to wash his hands from breakfast or having to do anything besides sit there while I learn vocab from an annoying, know it all dog named Martha. I hate that dog about as much as I hate mornings but who can argue with a vocab lesson to start the day? At least I don't let him eat Cherrios on the couch nearly naked while he watches Saved by the Bell or some equally horrible transgression from the 90's. At least I'm not that kind of bad mommy. Oh wait I probably am that kind of bad mommy too... check back in the future.